According to Dupont’s Bird Safety Tips brochure, when overheated, cookware containing Teflon non-stick coating emits toxic fumes that can prove fatal to your pet bird.  These fumes are not necessarily healthy for you either.

Dupont, the maker of Teflon, recommends that you remove your pet bird from the kitchen while cooking to avoid the possibility of “Teflon toxicosis,” the official name for the poisoning that occurs in pet birds from these fatal fumes. When the same fumes make people ill, it is called “polymer fume fever.”

The Environmental Working Group says:

“In two to five minutes on a conventional stovetop, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year, according to tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG).”

“DuPont studies show that the Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 464°F. At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. At temperatures that DuPont scientists claim are reached on stovetop drip pans (1000°F), non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene.”

Sounds tasty!

Rice cookers without non-stick coating

I no longer use cookware that contains non-stick coating of any type, especially after watching the non-stick coating peel off inside my former Panasonic rice cooker due to a vagrant piece of dried apricot.  While it’s easy to find alternatives to standard non-stick cookware, it’s tough to locate a rice cooker free of non-stick coating in the inner pot. There are plenty of rice cookers with stainless steel outer pots, but few with stainless steel inner pots. To save you the hassle of a search, here are two options.

I use the Suppentown SC 866 3-cup Stainless Steel Rice Cooker & Steamer, which is the perfect size for an individual or couple.  It does cost an arm and a leg, but it is a worthwhile investment if you are a voluminous rice eater like I am.

This rice cooker contains no non-stick coating whatsoever.  The outside and inside of the outer pot, inner pot, and cover are stainless steel.  The handles, the knob on the top, and dial panel are plastic, as you can see from the photo, so there will be off-gassing of these plastic parts during the initial period of usage.

This rice cooker makes perfect rice every time.  As recommended, I add extra water for softer rice and soak the rice in water for 15-30 minutes before cooking.  You will need to experiment to find the right ratio of rice-to-water to meet your preferences.  Clean up is a breeze if you simply let the stainless steel inner pot soak for awhile before hand washing it.

The Suppentown SC 866 has one unusual feature.  About one cup of water is added to the outer pot at the start of the cooking process.  Standard rice cookers generally release steam, but this one releases more due the evaporation of this extra cup of water.  Be forewarned in the event that a bit of extra steam might be a problem for you.

All around, it’s a well made, substantial counter-top appliance, but it’s not petite like other 3-cup rice cookers.  Smaller is nicer for traveling, but the stainless steel is what sets this cooker apart and makes it worth the investment.

A second option is the 8-cup Miracle Exclusives ME81 Stainles Steel Rice Cooker & Steamer, a better choice for a larger family and a more reasonable price as well.  I’ve never used this one so I can’t vouch for it myself, but it does get rave reviews on Amazon and appears to be fully stainless steel.

Is non-stick coating really unsafe?

Now you might wonder, “Will a little non-stick coating really hurt me so much?” 

Theoretically, non-stick coating is safe if you carefully follow use instructions and never overheat or scratch it.   Fat chance, in my kitchen!  In any case, do you really want to take a chance?   No one knows for certain the cumulative effect of toxic chemicals in the body.  Environmental toxins are now associated with the staggering increase in cancer in adults as well as the radical burgeoning of chronic disease and illness among children.   Currently, four out of every 10 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes.  Adding it all up, my vote is for better living without chemicals.

Dupont kindly alerts us to the fact that in addition to toxic fumes from overheated non-stick coating, pet birds are also highly sensitive to a variety of fumes such as aerosol sprays, perfumes, smoke, pesticide sprays, glue, paints, self-cleaning ovens and cooking gas.  More theoretically “safe” stuff for humans.

Have you made the switch from non-stick coating?  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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